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Indian scientists applaud: Will end our nuke winter

Indian nuclear scientists are elated over the way the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal has finally worked out, more or less on the lines they d...

Indian nuclear scientists are elated over the way the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal has finally worked out, more or less on the lines they desired. This acceptance, they hope, will let them join the international mainstream and remove decades of mistrust and isolation.

Scientists are happy that they have been able to retain the independence to pursue the development of the three-stage nuclear programme. While the fast breeder reactor will be out of safeguards, the entire fuel cycle and research and development programme will be in Indian control.

“I am very happy with the deal” said M R Srinivasan, a nuclear engineer and member of the Atomic Energy Commission, Mumbai who described “it as a good agreement in practical terms”. He confirmed that at an informal meeting of the AEC late this afternoon all members, including chairman Anil Kakodkar, welcomed the agreement since “it re-establishes India’s capabilities in the international stage while removing the decades of isolation in which atomic energy in India was developed”. On the issue of “India specific safeguards” that could in future be a divisive issue, Srinivasan feels “we can live with it”, saying you “lose some to gain some in every negotiation”.

P K Iyengar, a former AEC chairman, feels it is a little too early to be euphoric since the “devil lies in the detail”. Expressing “cautious optimism”, he said the “India specific safeguards” has to be carefully crafted. The safeguards regime, he said, should be almost equivalent of the level of the inspection regime for the five nuclear weapons states.

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“India’s energy independence will materialize only when the final assault using indigenous Thorium utilizing technologies is conquered,” he said, adding that the decision to retain independence at work is “a welcome baby step”.

The end product of the first phase of negotiations “seem like a win-win situation for both sides”, said nuclear scientist V S Ramamurthy, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, who played a critical role in the 1974 Pokhran explosion. He dubbed the negotiations of the technical aspects of the deal as “a fantastic achievement single-handedly steered by Kakodkar against incredible odds”.

Dr A Gopalakrishnan, former chief of the Indian Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, said: “It is a very good deal for India… India has been able to negotiate both an in-perpetuity safeguards directly linked to an in-perpetuity supply of fuel.”

First published on: 03-03-2006 at 01:35:22 am
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